5 Ways to Make the Hashtag Work For You

#Hashtags: What Are They and How Can You Make Them Work for You

If someone were to ask you to name the most influential social platform of 2018, what would you say? Some might respond Facebook, but our bet is on Instagram.

Since its launch in 2010, this breakout photo-sharing platform has amassed over a billion monthly active users. That’s more than double the monthly users for Twitter, and let’s not even talk about What’s App or Facebook Messenger. Indeed, Instagram has seen exponential growth since its inception and has become one of the most successful platforms in connecting consumers and brands through powerful visual imagery and storytelling.

But in a pool so highly saturated with users, how do you even begin to break through the clutter? Whether you’re a social media manager trying to take your game to the next level or an avid Instagrammer yourself, you’re well aware that the hashtag is one of the most effective tools to spread your message and discover like-minded users. But are you using hashtags to your best advantage?

5 Ways to Rock the Hashtag

Let’s start with the basics! A hashtag can be any combination of letters or words, a phrase, numbers, or even an emoji with a pound sign (#) to proceed it. The hashtag groups content to make it easy for users to search for and discover more of what they’re interested in. Anyone that clicks on a hashtag or performs a search for a specific hashtag will land on a new page filled with posts that are related to that specific topic and are tagged with the hashtag.

1. Be Selective with Your Hashtags

Focus on finding the very best hashtags for your brand. If you use ones that are specific to your brand and industry, you’re more likely to see higher engagement from users of quality that you really DO want to connect with. For example, if you are a medical spa based out of Philadelphia that’s trying to promote microblading, you’ll find more success using hashtags like #PhillyMedSpa, #Microblading and #PhillyMicroblading than you would using more general hashtags like #Beauty #LookYounger and #Spa.

2. Use Niche Hashtags for Your Business

Popular hashtags are tagged in hundreds of thousands to millions of posts, which greatly diminishes the chances for you post to be discovered. The more niche the hashtag, the more targeted the audience, which means you’ll be getting a lot more eyes on your posts and a higher chance for quality engagement with the users you seek.

3. Use Hashtags in Your Bio and Instagram Stories

Your post can pop up in a user’s feed if they’re following that hashtag, even if they don’t follow you! It’s a simple way to broaden your reach and get seen by new people outside of your footprint.

One way to tap into this is by using hashtags in your Instagram stories. You can either include a hashtag using the text keypad or via the hashtag sticker. Your Instagram Story will then be grouped with other Insta Stories with the same hashtag. These can be viewed by visiting the hashtag’s page and tapping the Instagram Story icon in the top left corner; if your post gets picked by a hashtag story, you have an opportunity to share your brand with a new and much larger audience.

You can also add a hashtag link to your bio to encourage discovery of your brand and drive users to that hashtag’s page when they tap it.

4. Look to Competitors and Influencers in Your Industry

Why not learn from the best? Look to the most successful influencers and Instagrammers in your industry and to your competitors to discover new and niche hashtags that may be of value to you and help you connect with quality users that can up your engagement.

5. Don’t Overdo It

More isn’t always more when it comes to hashtags. While Instagram permits up to 30 hashtags, there’s no need to use all of them. While some experts say nine is the magic number; others argue it’s 11. Either way, make sure to only use those relevant to your brand, audience and industry. Using too many irrelevant hashtags can flag you as a spammer. It can also backfire. If users see a post they don’t feel is relevant to the hashtag they follow, they can select the “Don’t Show for This Hashtag” option, which can work against you with Instagram’s algorithm.

While a large following may impress, don’t forget that Instagram rewards engagement over followership. Keep this in mind when making your hashtag selection. The goal is not to get seen by a lot of people, just by the right people who will continue to follow and engage with you long after the discovery phase is over. Keep sharing great content with relevant hashtags, and the engagement and fan base will follow.

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